Accountability & Ethical Governance UPSC Notes | EduRev

Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for UPSC CSE

UPSC : Accountability & Ethical Governance UPSC Notes | EduRev

The document Accountability & Ethical Governance UPSC Notes | EduRev is a part of the UPSC Course Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for UPSC CSE.
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Accountability: Meaning, Nature, Scope and Significance

  • Accountability is one of the cornerstones of good governance. It ensures that public officials' actions and decisions are subject to oversight to guarantee that government initiatives meet their stated objectives and respond to the needs of the community they are meant to be benefiting, thereby contributing to better governance and poverty reduction.
  • The concept of accountability involves two distinct stages: answerability and enforcement.
  • Answerability refers to the government's obligation, its agencies and public officials to provide information about their decisions and actions and to justify them to the public and those institutions of accountability tasked with providing oversight.
  • Enforcement suggests that the public or the institution responsible for accountability can sanction the offending party or remedy the contravening behaviour.

Types of Accountability

The concept of accountability can be classified according to the type of responsibility exercised and/ or the person, group or institution the public official answers to

➤ Horizontal vs. Vertical Accountability

Horizontal accountability is the capacity of state institutions to check abuses by other public agencies and branches of government or agencies' requirement to report sideways. Alternatively, vertical accountability is the means through which citizens, mass media and civil society seek to enforce standards of good performance on officials. While parliament is typically considered a key institution in horizontal accountability constructs, it is also important in vertical accountability.

➤ Political versus Legal Accountability

Parliament and the judiciary act as horizontal constitutional checks on the power of the executive. These two institutions' role can be further delineated in that parliament holds the executive politically accountable, whilst the judiciary holds the executive legally accountable. These classifications stem from the fact that parliament is a political institution, while the judiciary can only adjudicate legal issues. However, rule of law doctrine enables the judiciary to even adjudicate on the legality of the policy issues as well as matters of its implementation and rights of citizens and states in a federal setup.

Together, they provide on-going oversight in order to keep the government accountable throughout its term in office.

➤ Social Accountability

The prevailing view of social accountability is that it is an approach towards building accountability that relies on civic engagement, namely a situation whereby ordinary citizens and/or civil society organizations participate directly or indirectly in exacting accountability. Such responsibility is also referred as society driven horizontal accountability.

➤ Methods of ensuring accountability

The main methods of enforcing accountability are:

  • Legislative control
  • Ministerial/Government Control
  • Audit Control

These methods ensure flexibility, initiative, efficiency, performance and adequate control and accountability over the country's governance.

Steps that should be taken to ensure accountability following ethical principles

  • Enactment of laws that clearly define responsibility and accountability of those exercising authority. Karnataka Transparency Act of 1999 was one of the first laws that ensured it.
  • The regulatory body should be independent, and appointments should be made in consultation with the legislature's presiding officer (s) and leader(s) of opposition. There should also be an adjudicatory body as an appellate and supervisory body for this regulatory body. The appellate body's decisions should be made challengeable only in Supreme Court of India.
  • All members of statutory professional bodies should be brought under the definition of public servant for the purpose of PCA, IPC and Lokayukta Act. Similarly, all cooperative societies and societies under Societies Registration Act as notified by the government for this purpose should also be included.
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